President-elect Donald Trump has once again ignited controversy. All it took was a phone call.
In a move that reversed years of US diplomatic protocol, Trump spoke on the phone with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan. The United States broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979, and this is the first known direct dialogue between an American president or president-elect and a Taiwanese leader since that time.
The Twitterverse was quick to denounce Trump’s conversation as ill-conceived and troubling:
1. I want you to consider the possibility that Donald Trump is upturning American foreign policy not by accident but by intent.— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) December 2, 2016
Between his alarming calls w/leaders of Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Phillipines & Taiwan, is this a plan or is @realDonaldTrump just ad-libbing?— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) December 3, 2016
It's not enough that DT is a mentally unbalanced lying fraud, now with the Pakistan and Taiwan calls, we can add ignorant fool. #UNFIT— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) December 3, 2016
48 hrs. of Donald Trump. Going to visit Pakistan, invite Duterte to Washington and spoke with Taiwan. No advisors or grasp of foreign policy— ?? Christopher Zullo (@ChrisJZullo) December 3, 2016
Improving relations w Taiwan isn't reckless.— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) December 3, 2016
Unilateral escalation before you've a policy team or Asia strategy is.
I mean, if you know, like, 5 things about China, one of them is: THEY'RE KIND OF TOUCHY ABOUT TAIWAN— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) December 2, 2016
The president-elect also took to Twitter to defend himself, saying the Taiwanese president called him to congratulate him on winning the presidential election.
The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2016
Later, Trump tweeted, “Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”
Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2016
Those tweets were also ridiculed:
Yes, that's how the relationship works https://t.co/ng3m9FsvWR— Michael Cohen (@speechboy71) December 3, 2016